I will be Chrismated on Sunday.
I shall light a candle and say a prayer for you, Alpo.
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As for me. .when I first became a Christian I read all kinds of Christian books: Orthodox books, Catholic books and Protestant books. I later jointly created a Messianic/Christian website and the "Catholic versus Protestant" discussions made me question things further (I was searching for a home in Christ for a while before that). Eventually I started talking to a wonderful Orthodox Christian on the forum - he is one of the most interesting, polite and patient people I have ever met in my life; he is extremely good at explaining things. "The Orthodox man," my priest (there are NO WORDS to describe my priest), a wonderful Orthodox lady and the Saints (last but CERTAINLY NOT least) have helped me tremendously. It would have been very easy for me to join the Catholic Church, and even easier to join a Baptist, Evangelical, or other Protestant church, but for me, the differences were irreconcilable and I had to choose Orthodoxy as being the true expression of the Christian faith. I have been told (by my priest) that I can certainly appreciate the beauty of two or more Churches, just as anyone can appreciate beauty wherever it is (in different religions, in the poetry of an atheist like Shelley, or anywhere else). In fact, being able to recognize beauty "elsewhere" is a true sign that we love truth and beauty, rather than an idea of what these two things should be. As for "having" both, that's a different thing. I cannot possess what is in either Orthodoxy or Catholicism - or in Methodism, Anglicanism etc. - it can only possess me. As I said, I have discovered "being there" with the sights, sounds, smells and actions is simply another level to reading the prayers, etc, and to truly appreciate any of these Christian groups requires the same commitment. It is the only fair and respectful thing to do, in fact. That is why a choice, ultimately, needs to be made. I cannot "be there" in two different places - to live the life of a Catholic and an Orthodox Christian will tear me into two pieces.
This is not to say that I don't appreciate the beauty and truth present in the Catholic church. It's just that it would be disrespectful to "appropriate" the things I appreciate and respect within Catholicsm for my own, while not being a Catholic. For example, I very much respect St. Theresa of Lisseux as a good person but I could never ask her to interceed for me without living the basic Roman Catholic life that she did. On the other hand, the holy people like St. Theresa and others within the Roman Catholic list of saints were simply "not enough" to cause me to choose Catholicism over Orthodoxy. I am absolutely content that the Orthodox Church is the fullest revelation of truth, beauty and love. Truth, beauty, and love exists outside of her, but I simply have no right to chauvanistically proclaim everything I recognize as true, beautiful and loving outside of the Orthodox church as "Orthodox-by-proxy". This is actually what happens when people call anyone who proclaims Christ and is a good person (by their standards) to be a "true" Christian. I don't do this. It initially looks exclusive and prideful to take this course, but in reality it is the opposite. My view on the Orthodox Church with relation to other people is simply this:
Everything Orthodox is true.
Not everything true is Orthodox.
Truth is truth.
So, I am making no claims that "non-Orthodox" truths are less worthy than Orthodox ones (Truth is Truth), but by making the distinction it preserves the foundation that the Orthodox Church, founded by Christ, is the clearest, purest and most complete revelation of Truth, the person of Jesus Christ. I believe other groups - whether Christian or not - have varying degrees of truth adulterated with fictions.
I am sorry - this is more of a very long testimony! But I LOVE Orthodoxy. . .